One of the surest tests of a University's excellence is the quality of its graduates. Our graduates can be found in every walk of life. Many are leaders in education, government, the arts and sciences, and in technology professions. Some are national figures, such as U.S. Congressman John Larson, Mike Sherman, Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers and Fran Mainella, Director of the National Park Service. Others like Virginia Rebar, Superintendent of the Columbia Schools and Timothy Blair, Professor of Education at the University of Central Florida are leaders in education. And some are corporate leaders like Michael S. Knapp, CEO and president of CitiFinancial.
Here are some snapshots of some of CCSU's illustrious alumni.
John Larson - U.S. Congressman
First elected to the House in 1998, Congressman Larson was reelected by the people of the First District of Connecticut to a second term in 2000. His service in Congress has been defined by his commitment to preserving Social Security and Medicare, his advocacy of prescription-drug coverage for seniors, his leadership in securing critical national defense programs and enhancing economic security for workers, and by his efforts to close the digital divide in America by advancing education technology for schools and communities. He was elected to the Connecticut State Senate in 1982, beginning a 12-year tenure representing the Third Senate District. Larson served as Senate President Pro Tempore for eight years, the longest in Connecticut history, from 1987 to 1995. During his time in the State Senate, he is credited with establishing the nation's first family and medical leave legislation.
"What I remember most fondly about my four years at CCSU are the outstanding faculty that I had the privilege of knowing. I will forever be grateful to them for their commitment to education and to the students they taught. CCSU not only provided me with a first rate education, but the friendships I formed there have endured for a lifetime."
Carmen Espinosa - Judge, Connecticut Superior Court
The first Hispanic sworn as a Superior Court Judge in the State of Connecticut, Judge Carmen Elisa Espinosa was appointed to the Superior court bench in 1992. Judge Espinosa is presently presiding over criminal trials in the Judicial District of New Britain. She has also served as a trial judge in the Judicial Districts of Hartford and Waterbury. In addition to her duties on the bench, Judge Espinosa has been very involved in judicial education, serving on the Judicial Branch's Education Committee, which oversees all facets of continuing education for the Connecticut judiciary. A native of Puerto Rico, Judge Espinosa moved with her family at the age of 3 to New Britain. She attended public schools in New Britain and graduated from Central Connecticut State College in 1971, majoring in Spanish and Secondary Education. She received a Master of Arts Degree in Hispanic Studies from Brown University and her law degree from George Washington University. After receiving her law degree, Judge Espinosa joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a Special Agent. In 1980, she began a career as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. She held this position as a federal prosecutor until her appointment to the Superior Court bench.
"I consider Central to be the linchpin of my professional career. It was at Central that I learned that I could succeed at whatever academic pursuit I undertook. My preparation at Central placed me on a par with students at an Ivy League school and at a national law school. That is a testament to the quality of the education I received at Central. I have always been proud of my association with Central and it will always hold a special place in my heart. It has been a very important part of my life."
Stan Simpson, Columnist for the Hartford Courant
An accomplished journalist for 16 years, Simpson writes weekly columns for the Hartford Courant. His urban-issues columns have earned him many awards, including first prize from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists and the Frederick Douglass Media Award. The National Association of Black Journalists has named him the New England Journalist of the Year, and the Connecticut Small Business Administration has also honored him as Journalist of the Year.
"Central will always have a special place in my heart, and there's a unique bond that exists among all alumni. We know that the University is where many of us matured and met lifelong friends. They say the college experience is the best time of your life. Whoever wrote that was probably a Central grad."
Donna Fiedorowicz - Director, PGA Tour
Donna Fiedorowicz has worked for more than a decade for the PGA TOUR, a tax-exempt membership organization of professional golfers. In 2002, more than 125 events will be contested on the three tours; since 1938, nearly $650 million has been generated for local charities.
Donna's primary responsibility is the growth and development of each tournament, both financially and operationally. Additionally, Donna is charged with developing a strategic relationship with each of the title sponsors in an effort to assist them in building their business through the SENIOR PGA TOUR.
"I credit much of my success at the PGA Tour to CCSU basketball coach Brenda Reilly who instilled hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence in all the players she coached at CCSU. Coach Reilly, who succumbed to cancer in August 2000, remains a guiding force for me and others who were blessed to have played for her."
Angelo Messina, Vice President, CFO, Carrier Corp.
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Carrier Corporation, Messina leads all aspects of finance for this $8.9 billion international, market-leading air conditioning subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation. Prior to joining Carrier, Messina led UTC's strategy and corporate development function, with responsibility for mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. Messina started his career with UTC as a corporate lawyer responsible for a variety of domestic and international legal matters. He moved into the finance area to head UTC's investor relations activities, including communications with Wall Street security analysts and investors.
"CCSU provides an excellent education at a great value. The rich pool of intelligent, educated graduates also encourages many employers to locate in the state, providing a good return on Connecticut's investment in education. The state university system is truly a win-win for everyone."
Fran Mainella - Director of the National Park Service
The first woman to serve as the Director of the National Park Service, Mainella is a career professional in park and recreation management with more than 30 years' experience. Prior to being appointed by President George W. Bush, she was director of the Division of Recreation and Parks for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. She is a past president of the National Recreation and Park Association.
"CCSU has been critical to my career successes. My master's degree in guidance counseling has helped me in all that I do. Thank you CCSU."